Who in New York politics is most likely to succeed?

Rep. Elise Stefanik questioning former White House national security aide Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 21, during the House's public impeachment hearings regarding
Rep. Elise Stefanik questioning former White House national security aide Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 21, during the House's public impeachment hearings regarding
Bill O'Leary/AP/Shutterstock
Rep. Elise Stefanik questioning former White House national security aide Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 21, during the House's public impeachment hearings regarding President Donald Trump's Ukraine-plot.

Who in New York politics is most likely to succeed?

Some elected officials stack up better than others among their peers.
December 30, 2019

The year is drawing to a close, which means it is time to assess what the past 12 months have meant for elected officials who dare play the political game. A few have been able to score some legislative victories with particular verve, while others are undoubtedly hoping that 2020 will bring better luck.

We at City & State have already picked the Winners & Losers of the year, but that does not mean that we are done yet having some fun at the end of a a tumultuous year. If politics, like high school, is ultimately a popularity contest, then it is only fair that Democrats and Republicans of all ages get a chance to see just how they stack up among their peers. 

Here are city and state officials who for better or worse deserve recognition for what they did in 2019. 

Most likely to succeed

Rep. Elise Stefanik

While political moderation has been her calling card, this 30-something North Country congresswoman recently adopted a new strategy to establish a national presence. Her political star has never shone brighter among Republicans since her performance in the impeachment hearings. She’s got a big future ahead of her – so long as Trumpism does too.

Least likely to succeed

Assemblyman Michael Blake

The Bronx assemblyman has been trying in vain to escape Albany all year. He came in fourth in a special election for New York City public advocate in February, and then launched an effort for Congress a few months later. But a remarkable string of bad press isn’t helping his candidacy

Best dressed

New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr.

He may be controversial, but not because he wears a cowboy hat and bolo tie in New York City. Not that his sartorial presentation is enough to distract from his homophobic remarks.

Least discouraged

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb

Who wants to lead a seemingly permanent minority in Democratic-dominated Albany? This Finger Lakes guy does. He might not be able to win many votes in the chamber, but every now and again he still scores a political victory.

Most popular

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Only in North Korea does a leader get more praise from her subordinates. But in the case of the first woman to ever lead a state legislative body, it’s because they actually like that she keeps them in line.

Eager beaver

New York City Councilman Ben Kallos

The smile does not lie – the Manhattan borough president wannabe is looking for new friends wherever he can find them. Did you know he has a website? Did you know you can call him anytime?

Most likely to be reincarnated as cats

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris

Since they’ve already had their turns at political power, the time will come when the two legislators get rewarded by karma for all that feline-friendly legislation they passed.

Bipartisan award

New York City Councilman Joe Borelli

He may be a Trump-loving Republican facing the limits of electoral possibility in an increasingly liberal city. But the Staten Island lawmaker has no problem finding Democrats to hang with while enjoying a backyard cigar

Resident gearhead

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

You can say many things about the three-term governor, but you cannot deny that he knows his way around a garage. The man can tow your car, ride a hog and drive a classic manual transmission like a boss. If only governing were as simple as keeping eight cylinders purring on a 1975 Corvette.

Most NIMBY 

New York City Councilman Bob Holden

Go ahead and try and put a homeless shelter in his eastern Queens neighborhood! A wave of political frustration and community resistance will greet you at every turn.

Most ubiquitous

Rep. Max Rose and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson

The two 30-something little guys share a never-ending desire to please constituents by popping up seemingly more than one person is capable of. 

Comeback of the year

State Sen. Simcha Felder

The Brooklyn Democrat spent most of the year in the political doghouse after his nominal party took control of the chamber, leaving the longtime GOP ally with no legislative conference to call his own. But after giving the Democrats a few keys votes during the session, he earned himself a spot on the winning team once again.

Father of the year

Former Rep. Chris Collins

Nothing says “I love you, son” quite like pleading guilty to insider trading charges – despite saying you never would – so that you can help your son (whom you placed in legal jeopardy to begin with) get better treatment from prosecutors. 

Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State.
20200921